Most people know Steve Willis as a devoted supporter of the North-East music scene. But I see him as a community role model for igniting a fundamental shift in thinking about making the North-East shine on the map through nurturing an inclusive culture of encouragement and acceptance where every music lover feels valued for their contribution by developing a strong sense of belonging to the music and musicians of the North-East. Having known Steve for five years, I can say that Steve’s chosen path has not been without silent inner struggles, obstacles and challenges. But no challenge ever was big enough to bring down the resilient and courageous Steve and nothing could ever dim his passion to celebrate the music and the musicians of the North-East. Over the years, Steve Willis has successfully gained immense respect in the music industry through his creditable work of backing local artists, running showcase events, staged managing for large festivals from Lindisfarne, Evolution Emerging and Oxfam, starting a weekly radio show with HIVE community and making Cross The Tyne Festival happen to celebrate the music of both sides of the Tyne allowing artists from any genre of music to perform on the ferry to entertain every passenger crossing on the day of the festival. Crossing the Tyne Festival now archives the status of the Great Exhibition of the North event along with the Baltic, the Sage and St. James Park with no funding to date and proudly boasts 20 plus venues in both North and South Shields. In Steve’s own words, “We have an achievement made by people for people with our hard work and belief for the love of the festival and the region”. . I sincerely feel that Steve Willis is a great ambassador for a modern, multi-cultural Britain as his story celebrates diversity in a new light and encourages new thinking within people of the North-East to achieve harmonious coexistence through the love of music, mutual trust and tolerance. With all these achievements to his credit, Steve Willis comes across as an introvert for never trying to dominate the spotlight. But he keeps the lights on for others to shine and stays focused on the end goal. In addition to being a good listener, Steve is an organisation wizard, he digs deep into a problem and challenges himself to improve results. Steve has wonderfully cultivated a trustworthy environment for everyone to elect to be a part of a shared vision of the great music scene in the North-East and It won’t be long when Steve’s work for the region will escalate into a legend status. Hollywood may be proud to have Bruce Willis. But the North-East is proud to have Steve Willis. Sanila Singer/songwriter, Radio Presenter, Artist Manager, Drummer/Cajonist & Public Speaking Coach
North Tyneside Council supports the Crossing the Tyne Festival. We have promoted the event online, in the residents’ magazine that goes to every household in the borough and in 10,000 copies of the North Tyneside Summer Festival programme. The event concept is an innovative way of offering emerging and aspiring North East musicians a platform with high profile promotion and in a range of venues. The event utilises the ferry across the River Tyne, encouraging cross promotion, audience development opportunities for the venues and economic activity on both sides of the river. The Crossing the Tyne Festival has quickly established itself in the event calendar with sound and informed programming and a sustainable approach to development. We will continue to support the event whenever possible in the future. Thanks Pete
The Word, the National Centre for the written word, has a vibrant arts programme across the year and Crossing the Tyne Festival fits well this, complementing our programme and meeting our core purpose of supporting writers of all kinds. The Festival provides an outlet for original song writers to have their work shown and heard in a cultural venue on the banks of the Tyne. The Festival provided an ‘emerging’ stage at The Word – that is young artists in the first stage of their careers - in august 2017, which was very well received and we look forward to hosting it again in 2018. Steve Willis’ energy and drive is central to the Festivals success and I’m sure with greater resources he will be able to establish the Festival as a sustainable event in the North Easts music calendar.